Key 8: Art

Week 24: I Spy With My Little Eye

Welcome to the second week of Enchanted Key #8-Art.
Did you begin to reacquaint yourselves with your artist-thwarting Dragons?
I want you to be the boss of them.

This week we will focus on looking at art. You don’t have to visit a museum or gallery (although you can!) to do this. Art is everywhere. It can be present in the shape of a building, a color combination that is pleasing on store shelves or in a garden. You get to be the detective that searches it out.

When our children were small, I exposed them to all kinds of art. Even as tiny enchanted journeyers they developed keen eyes. We bought a family membership to the local museum and so attended every new exhibit. Without the commitment to membership we might have put off our excursions until never.

Instead of just looking at the art, I created a game for them. I got to do some research and learn a few things in the process as well. For instance, when the Grandma Moses exhibit was in town, I studied up on it a bit beforehand.

I learned that Grandma Moses was 76 years old when she painted her first painting! She had loved to do embroidery but couldn’t hold the needle anymore, due to her arthritis. But she could hold a paintbrush. And so she did. She painted rural farm landscapes from the memories of her childhood. She wanted others to see how it was when things were simpler.

She decided to sell a few of her paintings in a local drugstore for $3 to $5. Two years later, Louis J. Caldor, a New York engineer and art collector was driving through her town and bought all of her paintings. Then he drove to her home and purchased ten more. The following year, in 1939, the art of Grandma Moses was featured in an exhibition of contemporary unknown artists at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Her paintings were soon reproduced on Christmas cards, tiles and fabrics, in the U.S. and abroad. She was the guest of President and Mrs. Harry S. Truman, in 1949, at a tea at which the President played the piano for her. Grandma Moses continued to paint each day for the rest of her life. She lived to the age of 101.

On the way to the museum, I told our children the story of this amazing woman, which made her real to them. I had also prepared a list for a scavenger hunt of sorts. Our oldest child could read to the other two and all of them searched the paintings to find twelve cows, seven sheep, a farmer’s wife, etc. They excitedly searched each painting, exclaiming, “I spy with my little eye…a sheep!” As they each gained the skills to read and write, they held their own lists and had to write down the names of the paintings that held each item to discover.

In other exhibits, such as the works of Renior, they had to count how many hats they could find and also record the name of each painting. Occasionally they would fall into fits of laughter and I knew they had come upon some nudes. It was always a teaching opportunity and a source of humor at their innocence. Sweet memories were made on our art adventures.

Another wonderful activity was to have a tea party afterward and “invite a guest” from our experience. If it were Roy Lichtenstein, pop artist who made comic-strip type art, his name would be written in our guestbook and either we did an art project like those we had seen or made cookies in a related theme.

After the Andy Warhol Exhibit, we painted pictures of a Campbell’s soup can. I also printed out black and white photos of ourselves and we colorized them. Another day, we had a great afternoon recreating Robert Indiana’s LOVE stamp, accompanied by LOVE cookies we each designed.

Please spend this week in deep appreciation of the beauty all around you. Challenge yourself to have some fun like we did. You are never too old to play, I Spy With My Little Eye…

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I am grateful to all of you!

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